Forward Almoez believes Qatar's experience of playing in continental tournaments will come in handy when they take on African powerhouse Algeria in the semi-finals of the FIFA Arab Cup on Wednesday.
The last four clash at the Al Thumama will be Qatar’s biggest test so far, having only played and won against Asian rivals so far. The Asian champions, who are gunning for their maiden Arab Cup title, have won four out of four matches so far – including a 5-0 thrashing of the United Arab Emirates in the quarter-finals.
Almoez knows against Algeria, Qatar will start as dark horses but the 25-year-old is hoping the matches played at the Gold Cup and European World Cup qualifiers will help against the Desert Warriors.
“Our opponents, who have plenty of experience, will be tough and it’s going to be a difficult semi-final but we are targeting a place in the final for which we will do our best,” the striker said yesterday.
“The experience of our World Cup preparations will come handy in the semi-final and we are looking forward to a winning show to qualify for the final,” he added.
Almoez scored a brace against the UAE and now has 39 goals in 78 international appearances, just two goals shy of Mubarak Mustafa’s Qatar record of 41 goals. The striker said it was a ‘great honour’ to have scored that many goals for Qatar. “I am happy to reach a tally of 39 international goals. It’s a great honour for me, which would not have been achieved without the support of my team-mates,” he said.
The Al Duhail star said Qatar’s win over the UAE has given them confidence. “It was a collective effort from the entire team. This win has given us huge confidence and has made us more eager to win the Arab Cup. The best part was the turnout of the match. Playing in front of around 63000 spectators was superb and I want to thank our fans for giving us extra energy with their support,” he said.
Meanwhile, Qatar midfielder Karim Boudiaf said he was thrilled at the record crowd attendance at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday. “The crowd attendance at the Al Bayt Stadium was stunning and after getting such a massive support, every player was keen to give their best show. Definitely, it was one of the reasons for our win in the quarter-final,” the 31-year-old said.
Boudiaf hoped his team would continue to step up efforts in the semi-final. “We are coming back stronger after every match of the Arab Cup. The campaign will become tougher and we will have to perform according to that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Algeria coach Madjid Bougherra was delighted with his team’s penalty shootout win over Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday. Karim El Berkaoui's fourth spot-kick was saved by keeper Rais M'Bolhi before defender Mohamed Amine Tougai converted Algeria's fifth penalty to lift his side to the last four.
“It was a very difficult match as expected and I am happy to come out of it as winners,” said Bougherra. “Both the teams showed great physical strength in the long battle. There were a lot of attempts during the match. We also created many opportunities and were only able to convert into goals twice but I am satisfied because players gave their best effort to book berth in the semi-final,” he added.
Related Story